In a report on Naxalites under the litle ‘Love for the Outlaws’, Kanhaiah Bhelari tells us that ‘....Naxalites are the most loved lot in south Bihar not for nothing. In fact, they are the people’s only insurance against demanding policemen, criminals and landlords. Accroding to him the MCC and People’s War Group have opened several schools in their areas of influence. Prominent among them are the ones in Matlaung (managed by MCC) and Baruwaiya (managed by PWG) in Palamu district. He further adds that even some police superintendents were appreciative of the Naxalite crime control activites. District courts in the Naxal dominated areas have been witnessing a substantial drop in cases coming to them. In Palamu alone the no. of cases dropped from an average of 2400 per year to 1600 in the year 1997.
Many leading newspapers from the capital reported about the uproar in the Lok Sabha in the budget session (year 2000) of the parliament over the fast unto death undertaken by Umadhar Singh, MLA from Bihar owing allegiance to CPI(ML) New Democracy to demand CBI enquiry into the irregularities committed in the closure of Ashok Paper Mill. As already reported the MLA was seeking an inquiry into the alleged siphoning away of Rs 7 crore of central aid given for revival of a sick paper mill in Bihar.
In a seminar organised by All India People’s Resistance Forum, Prof Manoranjan Mohanty, Delhi University while delivering his speech on the human rights situation reported that the ‘...police and paramilitary forces destroyed a big irrigation bund near Mahbob Nagar, (A.P.) built by voluntary labour since the inspiration came from the Naxalites. Police also destroyed five bus stops in Karim Nagar and Warangal district since they were built by sympathisers of the Naxalite movement. He gave several such instances of the attitude of the police towards development programmes run by the Naxals’.
People’s Union for Civil Liberties in an illuminating report on Baster more than a decade ago has this to say about the movement led by Naxalites there ‘...a lopsided socio-economic development of the district caused by indirect exploitation through environmental destruction and direct exploitation through cheating and duping, has provided an ideal setting for the Naxalites to take root in the area... They supported the illegal encroachments of forest land and organised some campaigns of encrochment themselves; they repeatedly brought to the fore the issue of tanks and the need to maintain them in a systematic manner for irrigation; they openly opposed the Bodhghat project ; they punished corrupt officials, they made the tendu leaf contractors increase the wage rates; and they held health and education programmes among tribals’.
In his celebrated travelogue India Waits Jan Myrdal a Swedish national and author of many a book, opined favourably about the activities of the armed squads belonging to one of the groups (CP Reddy group) of the ML movement. The area covered by Jan and his wife was Warangal. According to him the armed squads are political organizers, not anarchists or bandits. The job of the squad is to popularise the revolutionary line and and to take up the people’s problems. Each squad is made up of a squad leader and four members. According to him 90 percent of the squad members they met were natives of the local areas. ‘The armed squads teach new improved farming methods. They help people carry out irrigation projects. Just in this area (Warangal) we’ve seen to it that thirty irrigation reservoirs have been built’. He further adds that cultural work is an important part of the squad’s work which includes not only songs and dances but political education and teaching three R’s forms the key component of this work. About the integration of the Naxalites with the life of the common people Jan Myrdal is all praise and tells how Subba becomes Subbanna (elder brother Subba) or Nirmala becomes Nirmalakka (elder sister Nirmala) and the party secretary becomes Pedanna (the eldest).
Praksah Singh, an IPS officer who was posted some time in Naxalite infested areas to oversee the operations, in his book The Naxalite Movement in India says ‘...[s]horn of politics, it (Naxalite movement) represents the struggle of the exploited peasant, deprived tribal and the urban proletariat for a place in the sun, for social and economic survival.’ While looking at the genesis of the ups and downs of the movement he adds, ‘Naxalism arose from certain basic factors-social injustice, economic inequality and the failure of the system to redress the grievances of a large sections of people who suffered and continue to suffer as a result therefrom’. While acknowledging that the Naxalite movement could attract some of the finest brains and the cream of India’s youth in certain areas, who left their homes and colleges to chase the dream of a new world, a new social order, he concludes that ‘‘The factors which gave rise to Naxalism in the country are, in any case, very much present today also and in an acute and aggravated form.’’
As already mentioned since late 60s when the Naxalite uprising occured much water has flown down the Tista or for that matter the Ganges.
Gone are the days when the pioneers of the movement propagated that ‘‘the battle of annihilation of class enemies is both the higher form of class struggle and the starting point of guerilla war’’ or when mass organisations and mass movements were supposed to increase the tendency towards open and economistic movement or when dependence upon petty bourgeois intellectual alongwith disregard for mass forms led to emphasis on individual terrorism based on conspiratorial methods. ‘‘The method of forming a guerilla unit has to be wholly conspiratorial... This conspiracy should be between intellectuals and on a person to person basis. The petty bourgeois intellectual comrade should take initiative in this respect as far as possible. He should approach the poor peasant who in his opinion has the most revolutionary potentiality and whisper in his ears: Don’t you think it a good idea to finish off such a jotedar’’? Declaration of ‘China’s Chairman’ to be ‘our Chairman’ or declaring 70s to be decade of emancipation was witnessed during this period only.
Definitely the new face of the movement would not have been possible had the leadership of the movement continued its journey on these and similar ‘left adventurist deviations’ and had not abandoned many of its wrong formulations. Within the All India Coordination Committee of Communist Revolutionaries which was formed in the aftermath of the Naxalite Uprising to unite the ‘‘revolutionaries of CPM’’ also one witnessed the struggle against this adventurist deviations. In fact it can be said that the first major struggle within the incipient revolutionary left movement around the question of revolutionary mass line was led by T Nagi Reddy, D V Rao, veterans of the Communist movement from A P.
Today the whole spectrum of the revolutionary left looks more akin to be working on the tactical line of the A P Revolutionary Communist Committee led by T Nagi Reddy and D V Rao. It may sound one of the ironies of history that the APRCC was disaffiliated from the All India Coordination Committee of Communist Revolutionaries over basic differences which essentially boiled down to loyalty to CPC, differences regarding people’s armed struggle and differences regarding boycotting elections.
Most of the formations have been compelled by circumstances to review past mistakes and has to draw necessary lessons therefrom. Of course it can’t be said that an all round critique of the left adventurist positions including its genesis and growth and its impact on the organisational line has been done by the movement. For that the very formation of the CPI(ML) which took place under the shadow of this left adventurist position only and was declared soon after the disaffiliation of APRCC need to be scrutinized again.
Overall the situation is such that the forty plus formations in which the movement has split have gotten over the blatant manifestations of the wrong line which raised its head in the initial period but at a deeper level it appears that many of the remnants of the older understanding are still continuing. The correct approach towards revolutionary mass line is yet to evolve and to be articulated.
One also notices diametrically opposite positions on tactical matters. For example, a significant section of the ML formations still are carriers of the boycott elections line. The inconsistency of the ‘boycottists’ is also visible when they are found to be tactically supporting this or that bourgeois formation under the general slogan of election boycott. Whereas quite a few formations have rectified their approach towards elections but now another danger is visible when a major formation within this block is seem to be drifting towards CPI-CPM to form what it calls left confederation.
What could be said to be the genesis of the left adventurism witnessed in the initial phase of the movement. One reason could be the drift to left adventurism was a logical culmination of the one and a half decade history of parliamentarism and economism rampant in the movement after the ‘abject surrender of Telangana people’s armed struggle’ when the pendulum swung to an opposite direction. A correct approach to this initial phase of the movement can be set if we revisit the question of the evaluation of Charu Mazumdar’s role. While the historic role played by the ideological leadership of Charu Mazumdar in this radical rupture from the ‘neo-revisionist’ CPM need to be highlighted it cannot be denied that his leadership held the principal responsibility for fomenting a left adventurist line.
It will be a separate study in itself to konw how adventurism essentially negates democracy and promotes centralism and how it affects proper organisationl functioning. In the Indian case it precipitated the phenomenon of split which continues till date.
The AICCR in its very first declaration had stated that one of its main tasks would be, ‘‘to undertake preparations of a revolutionary programme and tactical line based on concrete analysis of Indian conditions in the light of Mao Tse Tung’s thought’’. History is witness to the fact that this task could not be accomplished because of the dominance of left advenrturist line which saw the formation of the CPI(ML) just after the disaffiliation of the APRCC led by T Nagi Reddy and D V Rao and scuttling the first great debate in the ML movement around revolutionary mass line.
The 1970 programme accepted by the then formed CPI(ML) stated that ‘India is semi-feudal and semi-colonial country, the Indian state is the state of the big landlords and comprador bureaucrat capitalists and its government is a lackey of U.S imperialism and Soviet social imperialism’. It further said that ‘the Indian revolution at this stage is the democratic revolution of the new type-the People’s Democratic Revolution-the main content of which is the agrarian revolution’. According to this understanding by building strong worker-peasant alliance and following Mao’s theory of protracted people’s war revolutionary communists will be able to give crushing blows to the powerful enemies and usher into a new democratic revolution.
A majority of the formations belonging to the revolutionary left stream still braodly accept this programme. But it is interesting to note that while adhering to this programme their interpretation and understanding of this line does not converege. While for some in the binary combination of feudalism and imperialism, feudalism is acting as the main contradiction, a small section in this spectrum also talks of the alliance of feudalism-imperialism to be the basic contradiction.
With passage of time the earlier assertions regarding ‘‘China’s Path to be Our Path’’ or the blind application of the Chinese experience on Indian situation have been deemphasised. The differences of the Indian situation vis-a-vis Chinese situation have slowly got prominence. There is growing recognition of the devlopment of capitalism in various spheres of society and its impacting the social relations.